FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED SINCE 1946
Harold Sondheimer returned from his World War II service in 1946. After settling back in Beaver Falls, Harold started working for Harry Braun, who had created Tri-State Equipment Company in a small shop located at 710 7th Avenue. By the 1950s, the business outgrew its first home and moved down the town’s main street to 415 7th Avenue.
In the early 60s, Harold became a part owner of the company. By the late 60s, when Harry Braun was looking to retire, Harold bought the company outright. At this time, Harold’s son Edward was finishing up college, and after a couple years of working in Philadelphia, he joined his father at Tri-State.
In the 70s, when the team was in need of additional floor space, the company moved to its current location at 815 22nd Street, in what used to be the old A & P Supermarket and Ambrosia Nightclub. Finally in the 80s, to accommodate its growing client base and their needs, an extension warehouse was added.
When Harold Sondheimer passed away in 1988, after 42 years working and running Tri-State, Ed would take over as president, as was his father’s plan.
TRI-STATE HAS ALWAYS TREATED ME LIKE I OWNED 50 RESTAURANTS, EVEN WHEN I HAD NO TRACK RECORD AND WAS CLEARLY JUST LOOKING TO SPEND AS LITTLE MONEY AS POSSIBLE. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH YOUR FRIENDSHIP HAS MEANT TO OUR FAMILY BUSINESS.TREVETT & SARAH HOOPER, BUTTERJOINT
Ed Sondheimer was, quite literally, the face of Tri-State. His naturally warm personality and belief in the dreams of others made him the go-to guy in the Greater Pittsburgh foodservice industry. Ed learned the ins and outs of the business quickly. He did not rely on fancy advertising to grow Tri-State, and instead loved old fashion face-to-face conversations. His willingness to help out at a moment’s notice also created word-of-mouth advertising for him.
Ed knew the industry and knew what people needed to truly succeed. He would get to know the chef, the menu, and the kitchen so that he could use his knowledge of the industry to help dreams grow. He could recommend equipment that a chef couldn’t live without, and what would be just a trendy waste of dollars. And knowing the difficulty of building a new kitchen from scratch, he would ensure that local teams got the equipment they needed at the price or with the payment plan that fit. He would also visit clients just to see how things were going or to hand-deliver items himself.
Under Ed’s direction, Tri-State thrived for the next 33 years, until he too passed away.
BURGATORY, FOR EXAMPLE, WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT TRI-STATE. THEY HELPED US CHOOSE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT AND DESIGN THE KITCHEN LAYOUT. AND THEY ARE ALWAYS THERE WHEN SOMETHING BREAKS OR A PROBLEM ARISES.MIKE HANLEY, PRESIDENT, SUREFIRE RESTAURANTS & HILIFE HOSPITALITY
When Ed passed, there was a brief moment of wondering what would be next for Tri-State. But when his nephew Jonathan Sondheimer walked around the building he had been in since he was a child, he knew he couldn’t let the business leave the family.
Unlike Ed, Jon had not been trained and prepared to take over Tri-State. Or so he thought. After getting his degree in computer science, Jon created and managed voice recognition for a warehousing company. He also delightedly worked on inventory systems and programming for warehouses.
So as he walked around the same warehouse that he would walk around in as a kid, he realized that he already had the background for the family business. He had created systems for inventory for 20 years, and now had his own warehouse and inventory to track. Something about Tri-State was imprinted on him, and it became obvious that Jon was the right steward for the next generation.